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Welcome Sommer!

March 18, 2012

Last week’s “snowman in the window” picture is but a chilly memory, considering we’ve had temperatures in the 70’s here for over a week. That is not just odd – it’s unbelievable for March in Wisconsin. Many are speculating as to the reason, but I have my own theory – my granddaughter was born this past Monday and her name is Sommer Elizabeth. So Sommer is here  :-)

6 lbs 15 oz and 21″ long, with lots of dark hair ……. we’re all thrilled! Thanks for letting me share our joy.

So what does the view from my window look like today?

Quite a change, but I am still excited about making a small quilt from the picture with the snowman. I’m thinking of thread painting the entire scene on a vintage white damask napkin. I’ve never thread painted an entire scene and I think it will be quite challenging. I think this challenge should be  about trying something new.

A number of you responded to the challenge, and  so far 3 have sent me pictures which have been posted to the Window View Challenge page on this blog. Click here to see them.

I’m looking forward to  receiving more pictures and there is still time to get in on the fun. The quilts can be any size, from  a post card on up.  The prize will be an autographed copy of my new book: Compass Capers (which should be available for purchase through my website very, very soon). So send me a picture of your view at clkquilt@gmail.com, and join in on the challenging fun!

 

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Are You In?

March 11, 2012

The weather in Wisconsin has been unique this year. A week ago Friday we had a very wet snowstorm that left 8″ of beauty all over the woods. After clearing the driveway Mike invited me out to build a snowman. It was dusk and the scene was lovely!

By Sunday the temps were heading up into the 60’s and I discovered snowmen can’t do backbends.

Sunday:

Monday:

Tuesday:

So what does this have to do with quilting? Well, this was the view I enjoyed through the window above my sewing machine while quilting on Saturday.

I had an overwhelming urge to create a quilt about it. Then I got to thinking that many of you probably have inspiring views from windows in your home too. This led to the idea of holding my first blog challenge! I hope many of you are up for this. It’s quite simple.

1. Email a picture of your view to me at: clkquilt@gmail.com by next Sunday, March 18th.

2. I’ll post them to a “Challenging Views” page on this blog for all to see.

3. Then make a quilt inspired by your view, any size, any shape, any technique (small is good). You could repliqué the picture, but there are many other ways to be inspired by it: create a traditional pieced pattern using the colors of your picture, pick any item in the photo as a theme for your quilt or ……..any other direction you care to go.

4. Send me a picture of your finished small quilt by April 1, 2012 to be posted on the blog (that’s the deadline – its not a lot of time, but the project is small – and you’d just put it off until the week before anyways :-).

5. The following week’s blog we’ll have a viewers choice vote and the winner will get a wonderful prize!

Here’s a sample to get you started thinking. This is much more involved than our simple challenge, but it is the only other time a window view has been my inspiration.

When we lived in Sun Prairie my husband and kids built me a wonderful “aviary” post with bird houses and feeders hanging from it.

It stood outside my kitchen window and I delighted in watching the birds each morning. When we had to move I couldn’t take the post with me, so I made this quilt which was inspired by it.

Perhaps you’ll think of this as a chance to try a new technique or just play with fabric. I can’t wait to see what you come up with :-)!

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Friendship, Travel and Autograph Quilts

March 4, 2012

Quilting friends are the greatest and traveling with quilting friends is an absolute joy! When Wendy and I lead our Sew We Go adventures we always have a “pre-trip” project and a “take along” project. The pre-trip projects for the past 5 tours have included autograph blocks that we exchange while traveling. They’re a wonderful way to preserve memories just like the Album Quilts our grandmothers used to make.

Each trip we choose a block and all those who desire to participate make enough blocks to exchange, as well as enough extra blocks to complete the chosen pattern.

Our Danube Cruise block was paper pieced in shades of blue and green to evoke memories of gentle waves. 

This type of piecing guarantees all the blocks will fit together .

On our Holland Cruise we had everyone make “flying geese” that could be put together into a Dutchman’s Puzzle block.

I also had my geese fly between the other portions of my quilt.

While floating through the south of France we exchanged Indian Hatchet blocks (that’s the block’s name, I didn’t make it up).

I chose to make my blocks into a tote bag.

The Irish Chain pattern was an obvious choice for our trip to Ireland. There are 2 blocks in this quilt: each quilter made checkerboard blocks and background blocks out of batiks and we signed and exchanged only the background blocks.

This is such a lovely pattern!

Wendy and I are so excited about our next Sew We Go adventure. We’ll be traveling through Italy this coming October and here’s a preview of the design for our Tuscan Sun friendship quilt. We’ll sign the middle rails in the rail fence blocks:

Rome, Sienna, Florence, the Vatican!

Art, Sights, Food, Wine!

It promises to be a wonderful trip and there are still a few spaces available. Click here for all the information!

Do you have any special autograph quilts? Please send pictures to my email, clkquilt@gmail.com, and I’ll post them in a future blog!

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Simply Dynamic

February 26, 2012

Here’s an easy way to have a little design fun. Choose a simple 6″ block that has a strong diagonal, and make it in 2 high contrast fabrics. The possibilities will be even greater if you make positive and negative versions of the block. These are the 2 blocks I started with:

 
I made 24 blocks – 12 light and 12 dark.
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Now the fun begins. Let’s start with the blocks set side by side and in the same orientation. I’ve put all the darker blocks in the arrangement on the left and all the lighter ones on the right.
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Sweet, but not very exciting. Let’s try alternating the dark and light blocks while still keeping them in the same orientation:
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Now we’re getting somewhere….but what if we divided the darks and lights up once again and butted the 2 halves together….while turning every other block?
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Now let’s go a bit crazy!
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At this point I think I need to double the number of blocks and try playing a little more with the symmetry:
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That’s my favorite so far! Here are a few more I came up with:
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Sew many options!
To help in my decision making I took a picture each time I tried something new and then pasted them onto a page on my computer screen to compare them all and glean out the best (I didn’t show the klinkers :-). That’s where I got the idea for this post.
Any block with a strong diagonal can be played with in a similar fashion. Have you used similar blocks in a unique set? If so, please send pictures!
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Oh No – No Snow!

February 19, 2012

I received a number of responses to last week’s post from readers in areas where there is no snow. Then I ran into a friend locally who had the same concern and I realized the problem … I live in the woods and, even though we’ve had a mild, warm, low-snow winter for Wisconsin – our trees are keeping me in plenty of snow to snow dye. I guess I hadn’t really noticed the lack of snow all around (duh). Here’s the current view from our deck:

This is the field across the road and my friend (and website designer) Di’s beautiful farm:

It’s hard to believe the contrast.

If you have no snow, do not despair. There is such a thing as “Freeze Dyeing”. Just go to the Milwaukee Art Quilters blog: http://milwaukeeartquilters.wordpress.com/page/2/ and scroll down to the directions in the September 25th post.

Just in case you’re dyeing to see the results from last week’s adventure – here are the burp cloths:

Plus Daddy and Mommy’s shirts and baby-to-be’s onesies and bibs:

The tie dyeing was a hit and the results were such fun!

Now I’d like to share my snow dyeing saga and what I learned along the way.

1. I waited until the snow was almost completely melted:

2. I dumped the bins onto the snowy yard:

3. I removed the bins:

4. and hung everything to drip and dry in the warm shed:

5. Then it was off to the laundromat for 2 cold water washes (with Color Catchers™ to absorb the excess dye) and a ride in the dryer.

And here’s the snow dyed results:

I was really quite pleased, but I didn’t like the way the fabric sat in the “muddy” water at the bottom of the bin while the snow melted. Thanks to Johanna for her comment about elevating the fabric with an old oven rack or cookie rack. Other suggestions were inverted deli containers along the bottom of the bin or even leftover chunks of pvc pipe.

I’m anxious to try this out on some of the leftover hunks of light value fabric in my stash. New life for old fabric! But I’d better get at it before the snow’s all gone!

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Tie Dye Baby

February 12, 2012

Today I threw a baby shower with a twist for my daughter-in-law Betsy: she invited her girlfriends and we tie-dyed onesies, bibs and burp cloths. We even did t-shirts for Daddy and Mommy. What a blast!

The original idea came from Kathie Boucher with inspiration from Laura Krasinski (both friends from the Milwaukee Art Quilters). I purchased tie-dye kits from Joann Fabrics. Grandpa Mike was kind enough to make room in his barn. We covered the floor and tables with plastic and then the fun began.

Above center is Betsy and my granddaughter to be :-)

Artists come in all sizes.

The girls did a great job, but they didn’t get to see the finished product yet (it’s all still damp and under plastic).

After everyone left I decided it was time to try my hand at snow dyeing. So I mixed up a few new bottles of dye, removed my old, stained sweatshirt, grabbed a few pair of bamboo socks for the grandkids in Washington State and phase II began.

1.   I misted everything with water and bunched it in the bottom of 2 bins.

2.  Grandpa shoveled the bins full of snow.

3.  I patted down the snow and “made snow cones” (Annabelle is watching and wondering what I’m doing).

Theoretically the dye melts into the fabric and wonderful designs occur. So here’s the before:

Next week I’ll post the pictures of all the “afters”!

Have you had any group dyeing adventures?

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WOW

February 6, 2012

I returned home from Arizona last Monday night and Tuesday the sun shone bright and it reached 47 degrees. Unusual temperatures for Wisconsin in winter – and I’m not complaining!

So, what’s the “WOW” for? Well, “Walls of Wittenberg” of course.  Wittenberg is a lovely, small town in north/central Wisconsin.

Due to my friend Laura Krasinski’s kind suggestion, I was invited to present my “Challenged Mind” program there this past Saturday in conjunction with a quilt show that is going on at the WOWSPACE Gallery.

Not only was I able to share my quilts and their stories with a lovely group, but seeing the Gallery exhibit was a special treat!

From the tin ceiling to the stain glass windows, it is a delightful space for an exhibit of quilts and Fiber Art!

The Best of Show winning quilt was  made by another dear friend, Sharon Rotz (please enjoy the pic of Sharon and her quilt and disregard the beautiful, bright sunshine coming in the window).

Sharon was kind enough to hold up quilts during the talk (and then invite me for a slumber party at her home that night).

After enjoying the quilts we drove around and took in the amazing murals that are painted on many of the buildings in town:

I just had to share a few of my favorites. This fascinating, 3-D mural is on the back of the WOWSPACE Gallery (I think it was my favorite):

With just a 1/4 turn to my left I was able to catch this photo of the back of the bowling alley (quite an interesting shot with the evergreen trees and remaining snow).

Then there was the grocery store:

The Post Office:

 

and the Middle School:

Many thanks to Susan Hanson and Miriam Nelson (and Elaine too) for all their efforts concerning the exhibit and the presentation.

The quilt show will be hanging for one more week and the murals are always there :-). If you live far from Wittenberg, I hope you enjoyed this short photo-journey and if you live close enough to make a visit, I know you will not be disappointed.